HC Deb 31 October 1975 vol 898 cc631-4W
Mr. Patrick Jenkin

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give a further breakdown of the figures listed in headings (i) to (vii) in his Written Answer to a Question from the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof) on Monday, 27th October, showing in each case the main subheads of expenditure as used in the Supply Estimates.

Mr. Benn

Headings (i) to (iv) of the table referred to expenditure by the nationalised industries which does not appear in the Supply Estimates. For items (v) to (vii), the relevant information from the 1975–6 Estimates is:

of British Rail for a clearer definition of the rôle the railways in an overall transport policy.

Dr. Gilbert

My right hon. Friend is aiming at defining the rôle of the railways in the course of the current transport policy review.

Mr. Moate

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, in calculating the amount of financial support required by British Rail from the Government, what allowance has been made for the cost of the reorganisation scheme cancelled earlier in 1975; and what was the total investment by British Rail in new properties for this scheme.

Dr. Gilbert

British Rail has committed some £8 million on new buildings, of which about half relates to aspects of the reorganisation which are going ahead. A small part of the support grant under Section 3 of the Railways Act 1974 derives from this expenditure, but the precise amount is not readily identifiable.

Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give an assurance that local railway lines under the direct control of his Department will not be taken up until their long-term potential has been evaluated in conjunction with area structure plans and transportation studies.

Dr. Gilbert

There are well-established procedures to ensure that disused rail land belonging to the British Railways Board is not disposed of before possible long-term uses have been fully considered. The arrangements do not apply to disused track, which is liable to deteriorate and may be subject to vandalism.

Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what studies his Department is currently conducting into the scope for conserving energy by further transferring passengers and freight from road to rail; what conclusions he has drawn from this research so far; and what information has been made available to the Government generally as a result of these investigations.

Mr. Carmichael

The Government's policy is to make the best use of all resources available for transport. The Department is presently involved with local authorities and others in studies of the scope for achieving this by encouraging the transfer of passengers and freight from road to rail where this can be shown to bring economic, social and environmental benefits. Research is incomplete, and information on possible energy savings which might result has not yet been made available, but energy con- servation is only one of the elements to be taken into account in assessing the relative advantages of different modes of transport.

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